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Author . 



16— ♦7373-2 aPO 





Merrick, Long Island, 


Written for the Merrick Library 



The Merrick library, 



S Oo 


^ u^'i 

p. F. McBreen & Sons, 


218 William Street, 

New York. 













The Author. 



Here in the Country s heart 
Where the grass is green, 

Life is the same sweet life 
As it e'er hath been. 

Trust in a God still lives 
And the hell at morn 

Floats with a thought of God 
O'er the rising corn. 

God comes down in the rain 
And the crop grows tall ; 

This is the country faith. 
And the best of all. 

—Norman R. Gale. 


"Out on Long Island," is a phrase which to dwellers in 
Manhattan and Brooklyn is synonymous with pure air, temperate 
climate and fresh ocean breezes. Long Island is the natural 
suburb of these two great cities, and offers so many advantages 
to summer residents and for permanent homes, that its capacity 
in some parts has already been reached, while new villages or 
settlements are constantly springing up. The writer selected 
his summer home upon the South Side, in Merrick, nearly ten 
years ago. His subsequent experience there has proved he 
then made no mistake. A love for the place, with an ever 
growing desire to do it justice is his excuse for all that follows. 

During the progress of the work he has consulted and now 
quotes from: Histories of Long Island, by Nathaniel S. Prime, 
Benjamin F. Thompson, and Silas Wood; Colonial History of 
New York, American Archives and Documentary History of 
New York (Lenox Library); History of New York, by Thomas 
Jones ; Legends of Fire Island Beach, Edward Richardson ; 
Colonial Documents (Union League Club); McMaster's History 
of the People; Disosway's Early Churches, and Daniel Neal's 
History of New England. 

In giving copies from old documents the original spelling 
has been preserved. 

The author is indebted for valuable information to Mrs. 
Elijah Smith, Mr. Gilbert Smith, Mr. George T. Hewlett, Mr. 
William E. Hewlett, Mr. Frank Miller and Mr. Chauncey 
Smith to all of whom he acknowledges his obligations with 
many thanks. 


Merrick, September, 1900. 



Chapter I. Introductory ii 

II. Early Settlement and Name 14 

III. Land Titles 16 

IV, The Indians on Long Island 21 

V. The Merrick Indians 23 

VI. Early Settlers 26 

VII. Land Divisions 33 

VIII. The Will of Jonathan Smith 35 

IX. Highways 38 

X. Industries 44 

XI. Schools 47 

XII. Churches 49 

XIII. The Railroad 56 

XIV. The Merrick Water Co 58 

XV. The Merrick Library 61 

XVI. Camp Meeting Grounds 64 

XVII. Retrospective 66 

XVIII. In Conclusion ... 69 

Appendix 73 

Index 77 






Land embraced within the boundaries of "Heemp- 
stede" appeared, to English colonists, as early as 1640, 
most favorable for agricultural increment, healthful sur- 
roundings and permanent homes, of any upon Long Isl- 
and's shores. Here an attempt at colonization was ac- 
cordingly made in the spring of that year. 

Winthrop writes: "Divers inhabitants of Linne agreed 
with Lord Sterling's agent, one Mr. Farret, for a parcel 
of the isle near west end, and agreed with the Indians 
for their right." It is elsewhere recorded that they 
"bought of Farret the privilege of buying of the Indians, 
a tract eight miles square, in consideration of a payment 
to him of four bushels of maize." Unfortunately for 
this first colony, the title of Lord Sterling to the whole of 
Long Island, under an original grant from James I, was 


not recognized by the Dutch governor, Kieft, who, in 
1639 purchased of the Manhassetts "all land east of the 
Rockaways to Fire Island, and north to Martin Gerret- 
sen's Bay" — now Great Neck. The Dutch, moreover, 
being in possession, with military power to enforce their 
decrees, while Sterling had naught but his paper grant 
from the crown, soon made it too hot for the "Linne Set- 
tlers," and they were glad enough to escape with their 
lives, losing the four bushels of maize, which Farret de- 
clined to restore. 

In Neal's "History of New England" (1720) there is 
given the following account of this proposed settlement: 

"The Inhabitants of Lyn being -Straitened for Room 
went over into Long Island, and having agreed with the 
Lord Starling's agent, and with the Indian Proprietors, 
they began a Settlement at the West End of it; but the 
Dutch giving them a great deal of disturbance, they 
deserted their Plantation in those Parts and settled to the 
number of an Hundred Families at the East End of the 
Island, where they built the Town of Southampton." 

Reports concerning the land first spied out by the 
Linne people, the fertility of the great plains, the large 
tracts of woodlands free from underbrush and suitable for 
pasturage, and its delightful climate with health-giving 
properties, appear as we shall hereafter see in a second 
and successful attempt at colonization three years later. 

The Indian names for Long Island were Matowacks 
and Manatey. Governor Nicolls, who succeeded 


"Dutch Peter," called it Yorkshire, divided into three 
ridings. By an act of the Colonial Assembly, passed 
April loth, 1692, it was thereafter to be known as Island 
of Nassau; but this designation was repugnant to the 
colonists; although the act has never been repealed it 
soon became obsolete, and after the lapse of years is 
rarely met with, even in legal documents. 

Hempstead was so called by the emigrants who settled 
there, from a town in England known as Hemel Hemp- 
stead; and was written Heetnstede by the Dutch, from sev- 
eral villages of like name in Holland. 

Merrick is in the southern part of Hempstead, on the 
South Bay, east of Freeport and west of Bellmore, 



The township of Hempstead was the first settled in 
Queens County. The colonists are said to have come 
principally from Yorkshire in England during the reign 
of King Charles I, "when both civil and rehgious liberty 
were prostrated by the illegal and tyrannical extension of 
the royal prerogative and by the intolerance of the estab- 
lished church." They tarried for a time in Wethers- 
field, Massachusetts, but soon passed on to Stamford, 
Connecticut, and from thence sixty-six families crossed 
the Sound to Hempstead, in 1643. Among them John 
Carman and John Smith decided to press on further 
south. Carman got as far as what is now the foot of 
Greenwich Street in Hempstead Village, where he 
pitched his camp and staked out his future home; but 
Smith, who appears to have been of a somewhat more 
venturesome spirit, continued on his way until he arrived 
at the beautiful meadow lands in Merrick, and saw be- 
fore him the Great South Bay. The Eldorado had been 
reached. Confident that there could be found no better 
place, a confidence, which, it may be safely said after a 
lapse of two hundred and fifty years, was not misplaced, 



he threw himself upon the ground among the friendly 
Indians surrounding him, and declared his intention of 
here making his home. He asked "To what tribe do 
you belong?" "Merrick," was the answer. "Then," 
said Smith, "we will name the place Merrick, and so it 
shall ever be." 

Thompson, who is regarded as the best authority in 
matters appertaining to Long Island, writes the name 
Merric, Meroke and Mcrikoke. Flint prefers Merikoke 
and Meroke, while the older settlers adhere to Merock, 
Meroqiic and Merikoke. Whatever may have been the 
correct spelling, and doubtless there is authority for 
each, the Merrick of to-day derives a clear title to the 
name from its Indian inhabitants. The only other like 
geographical divisions are Merrick County, Nebraska— 
so called after Elvira Merrick, wife of Henry W. De Puy, 
speaker of the House, when the county in question was 
organized. It is not unlikely that these people were 
sometime dwellers upon our shores, and have thus en- 
deavored to perpetuate a recollection of their ancestral 
homes; and there is also a Merrick in Massachusetts, on 
the Connecticut River opposite Springfield. 

In old deeds and wills, one comes across "Little Mer- 
rick" and "Greater Merrick," a distinction now quite 
unknown. Greater Merrick included all land west of 
what is now Merrick Avenue to Mud Creek; and Little 
Merrick all land between Mud Creek and Merrick 



Smarting from oppressions of the English government 
to which they had for so long a time been subjected, our 
colonists brought with them a keen sense of right and 
wrong, and a determination to deal justly with all men. 
Hence, we find them early endeavoring to obtain by 
purchase from the Indians in possession, both an honor- 
able, and, so far as possible, a legal title to that part of the 
Island since known as Hempstead; this secured, they 
next bargained for and were granted by the Dutch gov- 
ernor, Kieft, a patent confirming the title and freeing 
them from Dutch control. Lord Sterling's pretensions, 
under letters from the crown, appear to have been wholly 
ignored, owing, doubtless, to the sad fate of those who 
attempted a settlement in 1640, and were finally expelled 
by the Dutch, after losing their "four bushels of maize," 
which was paid to Sterling's agent. 

Rev. Robert Fordham and John Carman were selected 
as agents to treat with the Merikoke and Marsapeague 
Indians. An agreement was speedily made for the pur- 
chase of land in question, confirmed by writings, duly 
signed. Payments were to be made at intervals, and the 



confirmation deed was to be executed and delivered, 
when final payments, thus provided, had been made. All 
this accomplished, the deed was issued and delivered in 
the words and form following: 

"July the 4th, 1657. Stilo novo. 

"Know all men by these Presents, that We, the In- 
dians of Marsapege, Mericock, and Rockaway, whose 
Names be underwritten, for ourselves, and all the rest of 
the Indians that doe Claime any Right or Interest in 
the Purchase that hempsteed bought in the year 1643. 
And within the bounds and limitts of the Whole tract 
of Land, Concluded upon with the governor of Man- 
hatans as it is in this paper Specified, Doe, by these p'rs- 
ents, Ratifie and Confirme to them and their heires for- 
ever, freely, firmly, quiettly and Peaceably, for them and 
their heires and success'rs for Ever to enjoye without 
any Molestacon or trouble from us, or any that shall 
pretend Any Clayme or title unto itt. 

"The Montooke Sachem being present att this con- 

"In Witness whereof Wee, whose names bee here un- 
der written, have hereunto subscribed. 

The Marke of Takaposha. 
The Sachem of Marsapeague. 
The Marke of Wantagh. 
The Montake Sachem. 
The Marke of Chegone. 

1 8 merrick, long island. 

The Marke of Romege. 
The Marke of Wangwang. 
The Marke of Rumasackromen. 

The Marke of . 

The Marke of Woronmcacking. 

In the presence of us, 

Richard Gildersleeve. 
John Seaman. 
John Hicks. 

"Vera copia concordans cum originalis scripsit, per me, 

John James, cler." 

"Wee, the Indians above written, doe hereby acknowl- 
edge to have received from the Magistrates and Inhabi- 
tants of Hempsteed, all our pay in full satisfaction for 
the tract of land sould unto them, according to the 
above and within written agreement, and according to 
the pattent and purchase. The Gen" bounds is as fol- 
Voweth: Beginning att a place called Mattagarretts 
Bay and soe running upon a direct line, north and south 
and from north to south, from Sea to Sea, the boundes 
running from Hempsteede Harbour due east to a pointe 
of Treese adjoining the lands of Robert Williams, where 
wee left marked trees, the same line running from Sea 
to Sea. The other line beginning att a marked tree 
Standing att east end of the greate plaine, from that tree 


and running a due south line and att the South Sea, 
by a Marked tree, made in a Neck called Maskutchoung 
and from thence upon the same line, to the South Sea. 
-And we whose names are hereunto subscribed, do further 
Ingage ourselves and our successors, to uphold and 
maintain this our present act, and all our former agree- 
ments to bee just and lawfull; that the aforesaid Inhabi- 
tants of Hempsteed Shall Enjoye the Said Lands ac- 
cording to the Equity-marked bounds with all privileges 
thereunto Any way belonging or Appertaining, for them, 
their heires and success" for Ever. And we doe binde 
ourselves to save and defend them harmlesse from any 
manner of Claime or pretence that shall bee made to 
disturbe them in their right, or any p''te thereof, hereby 
binding us and our success'"'' to cause them to Enjoye 
the same Peaceably without Any Molestacon or Inter- 
rupcon for them, their heires and successr' for Ever. 
Whereunto we have subscribed, this eleventh day of 
May, anno 1658. Stilo novo. 

Waautauch. Tackapousha. 

Che Know. Martom. 

Sayasstock. Pees Komach. 

"Subscribed by Wacombound, Montauk Sachem, after 
the death of his father, this 14th February, 1660, being 
a generall town meeting of Hempsteed. 

"A true coppy, Compared with the Originall and both 
of them being written by me. John James, Clerk." 


The Montauks claimed a somewhat uncertain sov- 
ereignty over all other Long Island clans, and, to avoid 
any possible complications, our colonists insisted that 
the deed in question should also bear the signature of 
the great Montauk, as complete evidence of transfer; so 
Wacombound comes to the next town meeting and 
makes his acknowledgment. It will, of course, be un- 
derstood that the signatures consisted of the grantors' 
written identification, the Chiefs' marks being in indi- 
vidual forms as selected by themselves. 

In November, 1664, Kieft's royal patent was issued, 
but contained a condition precedent that one hundred 
families should be settled in the township within five 
years. The patent was granted to Robert Fordham, 
John Stricklan, John Lamoree, John Carman, John 
Ogden, and Jonas Wood, but was understood to em- 
brace the sixty-six families from Stamford, and the land 
"of the Great Plains on Long Island from the East 
River to the South Sea and from a certain Harbour, 
commonly called and known as Hempstead Harbour, 
and westward as far as Martin Gerretsen's Bay." 



At the time of the first settlements by Dutch and Eng- 
Hsh, there were resident on Long Island thirteen tribes, 
or, more correctly, clans, of Indians, in some degree de- 
pendent upon each other, all acknowledging a certain 
allegiance to the powerful Montauks. There is a gener- 
ally expressed belief that these Indians descended in a 
direct line from the Delawares, but as their language was 
that of the Narragansetts, it is more probable they were 
an offshoot of the Algonquin races in New England. 
They were divided as follows : 

Canarsee: Kings county and Jamaica. 

Rockaway: Rockaway and a part of the adjoining 

Merric or Meroke: From the middle of the island, 
south to the bay, and from Rockaway to Marsapeague, or 
to the west line of Oyster Bay. 

Marsapeagiie: A part of the same eastern land as the 
Merokes, and extending into Suffolk county. 

Matinecock: From Flushing, through Queens county 
to Fresh Pond in Suffolk county, on the north side. 

Nesoquake or Nissaqiiogue: From Fresh Pond to 
Stony Brook. 


Seatalocot or Satauket: From Stony Brook to Wading 

Corchang: From Wading River to Southold. 

Manhassett or Manhanset: Shelter Island. 

Secatogne or Secatang: From the Marsapeagues to 

Patchogue: East to Southampton. 

Shinecock or Shinecoc: From Canoe Place to Mon 

Montauk: The Montauk peninsula. 

As a rule these various clans were friendly to the 
whites, gave little trouble, and were always ready for a 
trade; but soon after colonization began, there was a 
noticeable diminution in their number. In an old history 
of New York, written by Dunton, now very rare but ex- 
ceedingly interesting, it is recorded (1670): "There is 
now but few Indians, and those few no ways hurtful. It 
is to be admired how strangely they have decreased, by 
the hand of God, since the English first settling in these 



We have already seen that our pioneer settler, John 
Smith, was cordially greeted, upon his arrival at the 
meadows, by the assembled Indians, and he seems ever 
thereafter to have maintained friendly relations with 
them. Their camp was upon what was called "The 
Neck," and their burying ground in the nearby field 
which adjoins the property now owned by Mr. Hugh V. 
Roddy, on the west. There is some authority for the state- 
ment that the Merricks were a branch of the Rockaways, 
and those writers who maintain this theory spell the name 
Merock, indicating the latter syllable as derived from the 
first one in Rockaway. But so far as can be learned the 
Merricks were entirely independent of their western 
neighbors, although for a long time they paid tribute to 
the Marsapeagues on the east. Tradition has it that when 
John Smith saw this tribute delivered he asked for an 
explanation, and, on learning the full story, told the Mer- 
ricks it was an imposition, and advised them not to sub- 
mit to any such demand. His advice was followed j 
further payments were refused, and the angry Marsa- 
peagues sought revenge in the slaughter of Merrick pigs, 
sheep and cattle. Again Smith came to the rescue. A 



petition was sent to the colonial governor; he referred it 
to the famous John Underhill, who, with a company of 
infantry, appeared at Fort Neck, and so effectually de- 
feated the Marsapeagues in a pitched battle that they 
never after recovered from the blow. In an old court 
record (1699) it is stated that "the marriage of John 
Underhill, Jr., and Mary Prior is pronounced null, and 
they are fined £5 apiece for breach and contempt of law, 
and to pay iio more if they shall not be legally married 
before the next court, which being neglected they are 
fined iio each." The son appears to have been a worthy 
descendant of the Indian fighter, John. 

But the fate of the Merricks, like that of all other clans, 
was sealed. They are represented as being of a remark- 
ably cheerful disposition, so much so as to have gained 
the sobriquet of "the merry Indians," by which name they 
were often designated. The last of this race, Henry 
January, married, in 1809, "Squaw Betty." One child, 
Sarah, was born to them, and she in due time married a 
Patchogue Indian with the somewhat doubtful Indian 
name of Tom Strong. He came to Merrick, and together 
they built a little house of logs in a clearing, less than 
half a mile northeast of the present railroad station. Tom 
and Sarah both died of smallpox within a few days of 
each other, leaving three young children, Nautchie, 
Jeanette, and Raphael. They were taken to the home 
of Mr. George Hewlett, who lived in the house now 
owned and occupied by Miss Kate V. Barnum on the 


South road, and were educated and cared for by him until 
both Nautchie, Jeanette, and Raphael married negroes 
and disappeared from view. With them the Merrick 
Indians became extinct. 



The Smith families were early in evidence on Long 
Island. Indeed, they were, from the outset, so numerous 
that something more than the simple surname, even with 
the Christian prefix, was deemed essential to properly 
identify them. Hence it came about that the first settler 
in Merrick, John Smith, was known as John Rock Smith 
and John Smith Rock, he being thus designated because 
of his ingenuity in building his house in Stamford around 
a rock too large for removal, which was thus made to do 
duty as part of the wall, and also as a back to the fire- 
place. His descendants are still known as the Rock 
Smiths, and at the present day include nearly all Smiths 
living in Merrick. There was also a Jonathan Black 
Smith, so identified, not from occupation, but from a 
decidedly unbleached countenance. Elsewhere resided 
the Block Smiths, whose progenitor placed before his 
house a horse-block for the convenience of his wife. The 
Weight Smiths possessed the only set of weights and 
measures in their neighborhood. Incidentally it may be 
stated that there were living in Patchogue not many years 
ago five William Smiths. A book of "Smith Wills" re- 
lates that each of the five was identified by a nickname 



known and utilized among their acquaintances. "Point 
Bill" resided on a point projecting into the bay. "Pea- 
cock Bill" owned a bird from which the prefix was de- 
rived. "Wheelbarrow Bill" constructed an improved 
barrow having three wheels. "Submarine Bill" invented 
a contrivance for examining the bottoms of vessels. 
"Eleven-Dollar Bill," clerk in a store, took from a cus- 
tomer for a fifty-cent purchase one of the old-fashioned 
two-dollar state bank bills, giving in exchange ten dollars 
and fifty cents, with the subsequent statement that he 
supposed the two Fs upon the bill meant that it was an 
"eleven-dollar bill." 

The Carman family early sent representatives to Mer- 
rick from the settlement on Hempstead Plains. To John 
Carman was born, January 9, 1645, the first white child in 
the settlement. He was christened Caleb. The Car- 
mans and Smiths intermarried, and appear to have held in 
common land westward from the eastern line of what is 
now the property of Mr. H. H. Cammann, on Merrick 
avenue. There is also evidence that these two families 
pre-empted the entire territory "from Merrick river, east 
to Cove Spring Landing, Merrick Cove, and from the 
bay north to Hempstead Plains." 

John Rock Smith settled west of the present lakes on 
either side of Merrick road — his house on the north and 
barn on the south side. Jonathan Smith Black laid out 
his farm east of Merrick path, which afterwards became 
the Hempstead turnpike; and Jonathan Smith Rock set- 


tied to the west, there being between them a wedge of 
land, known as the Hewlett farm. It is reported that this 
wedge was contributed equally by the two Smiths to 
induce the Hewletts to settle thereon. 

Richard Valentine had land, undescribed, in Merrick 
as early as 1657. He was a town marshal and man of 
some parts. 

One of the first houses was built by Jonathan Rock 
Smith. It is still in existence, and stands back from the 
present residence of Mrs. Elijah Smith. The house of 
Mr. William E. Hewlett was erected at about the same 

From carefully preserved records now in the possession 
of Mr. George T. Hewlett and Mr. George M. Hewlett 
it appears that the first of that family to reach America 
was one of the judges who passed sentence of death upon 
King Charles (1648). The name in the King's death 
warrant is differently spelled, and it is supposed to have 
been purposely changed afterwards to avoid pursuit and 
detection. The first Hewlett settlement (about 1649) 
was on Riker's Island, near Hell Gate; the house was 
destroyed by Indians, although the family, being warned, 
escaped, and we next hear of them in Hempstead whith- 
er they probably migrated. There were then three broth- 
ers, George, John, and Lewis, and one sister. George and 
John both died unmarried, the former at Hempstead, the 
latter at Cow Neck. Of the others there is no record. 
The first George Hewlett to come to Merrick settled "be- 


tween Whale Neck and New Bridge road," including 
what is now known as Cedar Swamp. There is also 
record of an early Hewlett settlement upon the farm of 
Mr. George M. Hewlett, which has always remained in 
the family. The original house has been incorporated in 
the more modern residence occupied at the present time. 
An old clothes press brought from England is still in its 
garret, as well as portraits of Colonel Hewlett and his 
wife. The people were largely tories in the early period 
of our struggle for independence. Washington wrote to 
the Committee of Safety (1776): "The inhabitants of 
L. I. have discovered an apparent inclination to lend a 
helping hand to subjugate their fellow citizens," and 
Jonathan Sturges writes to Governor Trumbull : "Long 
Island has the greatest proportion of tories of any part of 
this colony." The women, too, assumed a royal attitude, 
and went even greater lengths to signify their devotion to 
the crown. We may be pardoned, perhaps, for copying 
the following statement from an old record : "A young 
woman in our town [Hempstead] formed an intimacy 
with a Highlander in the British army. When the 
British were about to evacuate the island she was miss- 
ing. The distressed father expressed his apprehensions 
to the commanding officer That his daughter had eloped, 
and was now in the Company of her lover. Forthwith 
the men were drawn up, and the father walked along the 
ranks, wherein he discovered his daughter, in Highland 
Uniform, and in the guise of a soldier, by the whiteness 


of the skin where the garter is usually tied." The Hew- 
letts were among the leaders of the Royalist party, and 
at times were in imminent danger, but finally a declara- 
tion of submission to the Continental Congress was 
drawn up, and among its signers were John Carman, 
John Smith Rock, William Smith Black, Benjamin Hew- 
lett, Benjamin Hewlett 2d, Joseph Hewlett, George 
Hewlett, and John Hewlett. The Hewlett coat of arms 
represents two owls upon a shield, with the mottoes : 
"To stake one's life for the truth," and "By courage, not 
by craft." The name was sometimes spelt Hulit, and also 
"Owlett," the latter probably derived from Yorkshire 
dialect and the representative owls. In the last genera- 
tion of our first George Hewlett's descendants there were 
twelve brothers and sisters. Of these Mr. George T. 
Hewlett and Mrs. Mary Willetts are now (1900) the sole 

As an illustration of the deserved prosperity and enter- 
prise which have ever characterized the Hewletts the fol- 
lowing, copied from an old newspaper dated February 
28, 1800, will serve as an example : "The curious are 
invited to a sight of one of the most astonishing produc- 
tions in nature, a large ox, raised by Mr. George Hewlett. 
He is to be seen at Mrs. Delouf's, Flymarket. Admit- 
tance, one shilling. To give an idea of this ox, it need 
only be mentioned that he is nineteen hands high, seven- 
teen and a half feet in length, and nine feet in girth, form- 
ing a tremendous mass of animation. Not to view him 


as he now stands argues that want of curiosity which 
tends to enlarge the mind." And again, in 1831, we 
read: "George Hewlett, of Merrick, has a cornstalk on 
which grew thirteen perfect ears." 

During all these early years the Indians were friendly, 
and gradually acquired some of the ways of the pale-faces, 
among which was a not too moderate liking for corn 
whisky and another well-known liquid, sometimes smug- 
gled in from the Indies. They continued to occupy the 
Neck, reserving, as was the custom in alienating lands, 
"the rights to hunt, fish, and gather nuts." This condition 
is found in most of the Indian deeds. The longevity of 
early residents is a matter of frequent comment, and, 
indeed, the record, so far as subsequent generations are 
concerned, is still a remarkable one. Long life and Long 
Island are intimately associated with each other. It was 
recorded in the New York Gazette (1732) : "Last week 
the wife of William Humphreys, of Hempstead, was 
brought to bed of a daughter, which child's grandfather 
hath a grandmother yet living, being of that age that she 
can say : 'Grandson, send me your granddaughter that 
I may have the pleasure to see of my issue one of the fifth 
generation.' " 

The constabulary was the militia, and that there was a 
frequent demand for their services a single incident will 
illustrate: "John Jackson's Store, west of the Mill-dam 
at Merrick, was robbed by some Whale boats under Cap- 
tain Dickie. The Militia went in pursuit. The western 


division was under Joseph Raynor, and the eastern under 
George Hewlett. Dickie was captured, and sent to New 
York. Not long afterwards, George Hewlett, with two 
friends, was gunning on the marsh, when a whale boat 
rowed up, took his gun, silver sleeve buttons, and some 
money, and consulted whether they should take their hats 
and coats." 



Although title to the township was made sure from the 
time of settlement in 1643, lands were held in common 
until 1647, when the first division took place among the 
original sixty-six owners. Other divisions rapidly fol- 
lowed, and "Akers of Medowe given out to the Inhabit- 
ants of Hempstead," says Flint, is a frequent entry in the 
old town books. Town meetings fixed the day to begin 
cutting salt grass, before which no one had the right to 
use sickle or scythe, for the marshes were held, last of all, 
in common. In 171 2 the commons contained about 6,000 
acres. In 1723 officers were appointed "to divide the 
individual land of Hempstead, and to lay to every man 
according to his just right, and to doe the work according 
to justice." But as late as 1792 we find a farm described 
as "pleasant, salubrious, zvith the great privilege of Com- 
monage in the plains and marshes, enabling the proprietor 
to keep what stock he pleases." 

Among the early transfers by deed is that of Richard 
Elloson and wife to John Smith Rock, son of John Smith, 
of land "on the north side of the Neck, called Rockaway, 
adjacent to a place called hungry harbor." This was in 

■ 33 


1676, and seems to indicate that our first Smith was still 

A deed of a part of the undivided land transferred "by 
William Vallentine to Joseph Smith, of Hempstead, 
Queens County, on Nassau Island, in 1770," is in the 
following words : 

"In consideration of the Just and full sum of five 
shillings well and trewly paid by Joseph Smith, son of 
John Smith, wefer, the receipt whereof I do hereby ac- 
knowledg myself to be therewith fully satisfyed, con- 
tented, and paid, have by these presents, given, granted, 
sold, and convayed unto him, the said Joseph Smith, son 
of John Smith, his heirs and assigns forever, that is to 
say, a ninepence patten wright is to be taken up in the 
Undevided land in the township of Hempstead, which 
said Pattent Wright Descended from William Valentine." 

In one of the early recorded wills Silvanus Smith 
leaves to his sons "the salt and fresh Meadows on the 
South Neck called Great Merock and Little Merock." 

The will of Jonathan Smith Rock appears worthy of 
further record, as quoted from in the following chapter. 



Be it known unto all men by these presents, that I, 
Jonathan Smith, of the Township of Hempstead [Mer- 
rick], Queens County, on Nassau Island; yeoman on this 
Thirtieth day of May, In the year of our Lord, one thou- 
sand Seven Hundred and forty-six, being very week and 
Infirm of Body, but through Marcy my understanding 
at this time pritty well; and well knowing that my final 
change Draweth nigh, and that this mortal Body must 
give up this transitory Life; therefore I am willing to 
settle my worldly estate in peace and Tranquility among 
my famaly; but first of all I recommend my Soul to God 
that gave it to me, in hopes through ye merits of Jesus 
Christte to Inherit Salvation ; and my Body I bequeath 
unto the earth, to be buried with a Christian Like Burial 
at ye De Scretion of my Executores hereafter named and 
appoynted. And as touching such worldly estate Where- 
with it hath pleased almighty God to Bless and Bestow 
upon me, I will, devise and dispose of in ye following 
manner: First of all, my will is that all those just debts 
which I doe owe to any manner of persons shall be fully 
Satisfied, Contented and paid in Such manner as is here- 
after mentioned and expressed. Item, I will, order and 



bequeath unto my eldest son, Jonathan Smith, ye sum 
of five shilHngs New York money, and also my Large 
Bible, to him and his heirs and assigns forever. Item, 
1 will, give and bequeath unto my beloved wife, Eliza- 
beth Smith, and to her heirs and assigns forever, my 
Riding mare that I have, as also all and Singular my 
movable or personal estate of what Nature or condition 
Soever (except what I shall dispose of hereafter) that 
is to say, ye use and benefit thereof after the same is sold 
by my executors at public Vendue. Item, I will, give and 
Bequeath to my sd well beloved wife ye use and benefit 
of my East Room in the House where I now Live with 
ye Appurtenances, and the one third part of ye use ot 
my farme of Lands, &c.. During her Widowhood. Item, 
I will, give and bequeathe unto my Daughter, Phelina 
Smith, her heirs and Assigns, one fether Bed with full 
furniture thereunto belonging, as also thirty pounds of 
Lawfull money of New York, to be paid unto her In 
some convenant time after my decease, by my executors 
out of my movable estate. Item, I will, and bequeath 
unto my three Daughters that are married, viz.: Eliza- 
beth, the wife of Ezekiel Matthews; Jane Haviland, the 
wife of Benjamin Haviland, and Hannah Bedle, to each 
of them one cow and calf, and to each of their heirs and 
assigns forever. Item, I will, give and bequeath unto 
my daughter Philena her Riding side Sadie and her duch 
Spinning Wheal to her own disposall. Item, I will and 
beciueath unto my son, John Smith, and to his heirs and 


assigns my Stalion, a cow calf and a g;un which he now 
has in keeping. Item, I will, and bequeath unto my son 
Henry Smith, his heirs and assigns, two four year old 
Stears and a Gun. Item, I will, and Bequeath unto my 
son Cornell, his heirs and assigns my new Gun, a pair 
of four year old Stears and a gray mare which are to be 
sold at Public Vendue (with ye rest of ye moveables) 
and ye money arising therefrom, to be paid unto him 
when he shall arrive of full age. ***** 

In witness hereunto I have set to my hand and Fixed 
my seal ye day and year above said. 

Jonathan A Smith. 

mark and seal. 

The house containing ye east room, given to his wife 
is still standing in rear of the present residence of Mrs. 
Elijah Smith, and to this lady the writer is indebted for 
a copy of the above will and many other valuable docu- 



The old Merrick Path beginning near the present 
Hempstead turnpike and passing east of the house of 
Mr. Benjamin Seaman, in a northely direction to the 
plains, probably first did duty as a road in this part of 
the new township. It is said that one with sharp eyes 
can still discern its outlines. It was simply "brushed out," 
and indicated more distinctly by "blazed trees." This 
path, later on was known as the "Hempstead Road" and 
then, as the turnpike. 

The Merrick Road, or as sometimes designated the 
great south road, came next in order. It was built in 
sections, not continuously; and not until about 1850 
was it completed between Merrick and Freeport. Before 
that time its local terminus in Merrick was west of Mer- 
rick river, where a connection was made with the south- 
erly Freeport road, southwest to the old mills and again 
in a northerly direction into Freeport village. 

At about this time (1850) a company was organized 
for the construction of the South Oyster Bay Turnpike 
including the Merrick Road from Babylon to the old 
Hempstead Turnpike in Merrick, and thence north to 
Hempstead Plains. The work seems to have been ac- 



complished with but little delay and resulted in pretty 
general satisfaction to all but stockholders. The original 
road in Merrick ran within twenty feet of the front door 
of Mr. John J. Hewlett's house, now occupied by his son 
Mr. William E. Hewlett. When the Commissioners 
reached that point, in laying out the new turnpike, to 
obviate an unnatural curve, the course was laid further 
south, as the road now runs. To this the senior Hewlett 
strenuously objected, urging as a sufficient reason there- 
for, that it would "cut him off" and leave his house too 
far away from the travelled thoroughfare. A still more 
potential argument on his part was a refusal to take ad- 
ditional stock in the company if the change was insist- 
ed upon. This might have brought the company to 
terms, had there not been — unfortunately for Mr. Hew- 
lett — another householder further west who insisted with 
equal pertinacity, that the southerly course should be 
confirmed, in order that he might thus secure a "larger 
door yard," and agreeing in consideration therefor, to 
take and pay for more stock than would otherwise be 
purchased by Mr. Hewlett. Such diplomacy was irresist- 
ible and the road was changed accordingly. 

There were regular lines of stages on the new turnpike 
from Babylon to Hempstead — thence to Jamaica and 
Brooklyn. South Oyster Bay had a postoffice, and one 
was soon after established for Merrick in the old hotel 
and store combined on the Hempstead Turnpike north 
of the present railroad crossing. The building was de- 


stroyed by fire in 1896. The Merrick postofifice was a 
general point for distribution, and the nearest station for 
people residing in Freeport. 

To the west of Mr. Cammann's present residence, and 
extending from the road in a northerly direction was a 
high board fence erected to screen from view objection- 
able farm buildings further on. In course of time, how- 
ever, the southerly boards of this fence were cut off at a 
reasonable height so that stages might the more easily 
bie seen from the house as they passed to and fro upon 
the Merrick Road. 

The Plank Road to Jamaica was built about 1854. It 
commenced at the junction of Hempstead Turnpike with 
the Merrick Road and extended over the latter in a 
westerly course, bridging Freeport swamps, and furnish- 
ing a direct thoroughfare between that village and Mer- 
rick. The new road was not a profitable investment and 
was soon acquired by the town. 

Merrick avenue, extending from the Bay north to the 
railroad and thence to and beyond the camp grounds, is 
perhaps as fine a road with its surroundings as can be 
found on Long Island. It is, the greater part, beautifully 
shaded, and has a macadam foundation. Previous to 
1850, however, it was but a cow path, more particularly 
designated as "Whale Neck Road," from the stranding of 
a whale at Whale Neck Point; which whale was later sub- 
divided and transferred in carts over the cow path to set- 
tlements further north. A pair of bars then closed Mer- 



rick avenue to the public at its junction with the Merrick 
Road. The necessity for making the path a highway 
soon became apparent, and it was accordingly set apart 
for that purpose and reconstructed. Freight from the 
Merrick dock, at the foot of this avenue, before the days 
of a railroad, was then received from vessels and con- 
veyed in wagons to all parts of the surrounding country. 
Indeed, at this period, nearly all freight to and from 
Hempstead and New York was so transferred. The good 
ship "Native of America," commanded by Capt. Thomas 
Raynor, made regular trips between the two ports. 

Within the last ten years the older roads have been 
supplemented by: 

Kirkwood avenue from the Hempstead Turnpike 
near the residence of Mr. Benjamin Seaman, east to 
Merrick avenue, and south of the Merrick Library. 

Lindemere avenue, from the southerly end, and 
around the east side, of the south lake to Merrick road ; 
thence northerly, bordering the handsome grounds and 
residence of Mr. P. R. Jennings, to a junction with Kirk- 
wood avenue. 

Wynsum avenue, from the Merrick Road, west of 
Miss Barnum's, north to the railroad station. 

Willomere avenue, from Merrick road around the 
westerly side of the south lake, to its southerly end. 
Bordering these avenues about the lake are some of the 
most desirable building lots still attainable. It is pre- 
dicted that in the near future they will become the center 
of handsome residences. 


To go back to an earlier date, we find what might now 
be called private roads, but laid out by Commissioners, 
and entered in the town records. The following is a copy 
of one of these entries: 

"Articles of agreement made by the owners of a cer- 
tain tract of Meadow Lands Lying in the Township of 
Hempstead on Little Merrick is as follows: Whereas, we 
the subscribers whose names are hereunto Written, Do 
agree for Ourselves, our heirs and assigns forever that we 
will take a Road that the Commissioners Shall Lay out. 
One Rod Wide In Leu of all other Rights or Priviledge 
that we Heretofore have had, to Pass to and From our 
Meadow, For the Use of Carting the Hay Cut on our 
Respective Meadows, Said Road to Begin at Duryea's 
Bars, Running as the Path Now Runs to the Bars Near 
Jacob Smith's and Timothy Titus' House, and from 
thence To the Island as the Cross Way Now Is. One 
Rod Wide Eastwardly from the Ditch on the West Side 
of Said Crossway. The Priviledges above written are no 
Other ithan the Priviledges we had In the Old Road 
which we have given for the New One. In witness 
Whereof We set our Hands, Nov. 9, 1809." 

Remarkably good roads are found in Merrick and in 
no part of the Island are there more delightful drives or 
greater attractions. 

The Merrick Road, extending from Brooklyn to the 
extreme eastern towns, is macadamized a good part of 
the way, with hardly an elevation above the general level 


during the first sixty miles of its course. Merrick ave- 
nue, with its prolongation, Whale Neck Road, is paved in 
like manner and so also is the greater part of the old 
Hempstead Turnpike. Intersecting roads usually with 
hard and substantial beds extend in all directions. One 
may drive or ride towards any point of the compass, a 
longer or shorter distance, and return to the starting 
point without going a second time over the same ground. 



Agriculture naturally occupied the early attention of 
our colonists and has remained a principal occupation. 
Records show enormous crops gathered from productive 
soil, good prices in return for the same, and a gradual in- 
crease in the comforts and surroundings of the farmer. 
Nevertheless, we find him complaining of exorbitant 
taxes, illegal assessments, and protesting to the Colonial 
Governor his inability to pay them. It is on record that 
this contention came to naught, but once resulted in an 
edict from Governor Lovelace to "lay such taxes upon 
them in future as may not give them liberty to entertain 
any other thoughts but how they shall discharge them." 
This was in 1668. 

The Merrick River was then a stream of some import- 
ance and for years a source of great value within the 
hamlet. Upon its banks were no less than four paper 
mills. The first, about a quarter of a mile north of the 
present railroad track was owned by Gilson WilHs; Joseph 
Smart had another, still further north; the next belonged 
to Isaac Willis, and the last to F. S. Molineaux, but is 
now transformed into a grist mill. They all did a thriving 
business for years and furnished a good market for all 




straw, farmers could bring to them. Rags came from 
New York and were returned in the form of white paper, 
by a regular line of packets, having a dock below the pres- 
ent residence of Mr. Gilbert Smith. There was every evi- 
dence oi a long continued prosperity in this branch of 
manufacture, when that which has proved so destructive 
to the Eastern End of Long Island — the "Brooklyn 
Water Works Company" — by authority from the legis- 
lature, reached out into the township, like the octopus 
sucking through its tentacles, water from streams and 
springs, to its reservoirs and conduits, until the streams 
ran dry, the mills were closed, and so the industry came 
to an end. The several fulling mills which had long done 
a thriving business were also obliged to close for the 
same reason. 

"Flotsam" and "Jetsam" were terms well known and 
understood. A copy of one recorded document bearing 
upon goods of this nature appears of sufBcient interest to 
warrant its repetition: 

'Tn March, 1814, the Privateer Mars ware Drove on 
Shore near the New Inlet, by the British Cruisers, and 
set on fire by them. We, the Subscribers, saved Sum 
property from her. Jacob S. Jackson and Thomas 
Treadwell made an agreement with the ajent and part 
owner, Peter H. Schenck tcj Save the property from her 
to the Halves and Deliver said property when saved to 
New York to said Schenck and to have the one haff of 
the neate proceeds for saving the same. And the above 


said property or part of it Whare Delivered to Mr. 
Schenck at New York by James Bedell, which said 
Schenck refused to make a settlement for. Now we the 
subscribers do agree that the sum of money that ware 
lodged in the hands of Patrick Mott should go towards 
bringing a sute against Mr. Schenck, and if not a suffi- 
cient sum to carry on the sute, we the Subscribers agree 
to pay all charges that may a Crew in carrying on said 

"February the 14th, 1816." 

As a means for promoting industries, building 
churches, establishing schools and divers other public 
works, the lottery was frequently resorted to and was 
pretty generally in vogue. In 1763 the Reverend Samuel 
Seabury recorded in his diary : "The ticket No. 5866 in 
the Light House, drew in my favor, by the blessing of 
God, £500, for which I now record to my posterity my 
thanks, and praise to Almighty God, the Giver of all 
good gifts. Amen." 



"There is abundant evidence," says Prime, "that the 
first settlers of all these towns, from East to West, con- 
sidered the establishment of schools as second in import- 
ance to nothing but the institutions of the gospel, and 
many of them were as careful to bring their school 
masters as their ministers with them." Flint records 
that schools must have been opened immediately after 
the colonists settled in Hempstead. As early as 1671, 
we find an order, signed by Governor Lovelace, to the 
overseers of Hempstead commanding them to "cause 
speedy payment to be made to Richard Charlton, who 
kept a school; otherwise he will have good remedy 
against you at Law." In 172 1 there was a school on Cow 
Neck, taught by George Sheresby. 

The first school house in Merrick was built early in 
the last century. It was of rough boards and timbers 
hewn from logs — from its size evidently not intended for 
a large number of pupils. The remnants of this building 
may still be seen in rear of Mr. WilHam E. Hewlett's res- 
idence, where until fallen into decay they did duty for 
many years as a chicken house. The old boards and logs 
bear indications that the boys then, as well as now, had 



jack knives and knew how to use them; they record, cut 
deep in the wood, initials of many a girl and boy, long 
since passed away and of whom there is probably no 
other memorial extant. 

The second school house, on the Merrick Road, east 
of Mr. Hewlett's, was erected in 1844, and used until 
the modern building further east was completed in 1892. 
In this second edifice many of the present residents of 
Merrick received their education; and for years this 
school produced the best scholars and gave the most 
thorough instruction of any on Long Island. The early 
teacher lived on the premises, sleeping over the school 
room, and cooking his frugal meals upon the rough 
apology for a box stove. It is said of one, that his chief 
nutriment was derived from buckwheat cakes in their 
season, and other kinds of cakes during the rest of the 
year. An "old boy" remembers that this teacher was 
famous for his skill in cooking; "and when the process 
was about to commence the scholars gathered around to 
watch him flop the cakes on top of the hot iron." 

The present school building is modern throughout; the 
school itself is under the supervision of a competent 
board of education and the instruction of youth is care- 
fully provided for. 



"In Merrick," writes Thompson, "the Methodists have 
a meeting house erected in 1830, and another east in 
1840." This first meeting house referred to has been 
identified as one which stood near Hempstead Turnpike 
in Freeport about one mile north of the Merrick Road; 
it was formerly known as the Sand Hill Church. The 
grave yard with its head stones is yet to be seen in the 
still kept inclosure where the building formerly stood. 
The edifice east, to which Thompson refers, was prob- 
ably the Merrick school house, where services were oc- 
casionally held and a regular Sunday school maintained. 

The early settlers were largely of the Congregational 
and Presbyterian denominations. Partaking of Puritan 
teaching they had "a very strict regard for the Sabbath" 
and observed its hours with what they called "rigid sanc- 
tity." The town of Hempstead, in which of course Mer- 
rick was represented, voted in 1650: "If any person 
neglect to attend public worship without a reasonable 
excuse he shall pay five guilders for the first ofifence, 10 
for the second and 20 for the third, and for after ofifence, 
liable to increased fine or corporal punishment or banish- 



Incidentally may be noticed a custom in Church of 
England parishes of burying the dead beneath the church 
edifice and round about its walls, — the clergy under the 
chancel, pewholders beneath the pews they occupied in 
life and the poor outside. A Long Island epitaph of the 
period reads as follows: 

"Here I lie, outside the Church door, 
Here I lie, because I am poor; 
The further in, the more they pay, 
But here I lie, as snug as they." 

The first building erected within Merrick precincts for 
religious services, was undoubtedly the Union Chapel, 
commenced in the fall of 1875, completed in the summer 
of 1876, and dedicated Sunday, August 27th of that year, 
by Methodist Elder Graves. Mr. Raynor P. Seaman, 
who has done so much good work on Long Island, was 
the builder and he wrought well, as he always does, in the 
task then entrusted to his supervision. The chapel, as 
its name indicated, was for all Protestant denominations, 
but for no one of them in particular. It stood, where it 
now stands in an altered shape, on the west side of Mer- 
rick avenue, midway between the depot and the Merrick 
road. Mr. Charles Fox, president of the old south side 
railroad, and Mr. William E. Hewlett were largely inter- 
ested in its erection and contributed liberally thereto. Mr. 
Joseph Carman gave the land. Services were held for 
several years with considerable regularity, but there was 


never a settled minister, his place being supplied by 
students from the Seminaries, engaged for each Sunday 
at the rate of seven dollars and fifty cents and expenses. 
Large congregations resulted for a time, but gradually 
interest in the services declined. It became difficult to 
make the necessary payments and reimburse the young 
theologians. Efforts were made to transfer the property 
to other denominations in the nearby villages, but with- 
out success, and it was finally sold at foreclosure. 

Steps were then taken for the formation of a church 
mission under Episcopal jurisdiction and for repurchas- 
ing the Union Chapel property, which was speedily ac- 

A list of those who contributed to this purpose and the 
amounts given were as follows: 

George T. Hewlett $25.00 Arthur Welwood. . $20.00 
Cornelia Van Wyck 15.00 Mrs. Hugh V. Rod- 

Wm. G. Low 100.00 dy 5.00 

John A. King 100.00 George Hewlett .. 10.00 

Augustus J. Hew- George M. Hew- 
lett 80.00 lett 10.00 

Whitehead H. Hew- J. T. Hewlett 15.00 

lett 250.00 B. H. Seaman 1500 

Charity T. Seaman. 50.00 Trinity Church, 

Mary Willets 25.00 Rockaway 69.48 

Eliza Searing 25.00 Trinity Ch. S. S., 

Charles Hewlett. . . 15.00 Rockaway 70.00 

John L Lott 25.00 F. B. Baldwin .... 10.00 


George W. Bergen $25.00 Charlotte L. Hew- 

Joseph S. Wright.. 10.00 lett $150.00 

Rhoda Wright 5.00 Charlotte L. Hew- 

Birasall Post 5.00 lett 50.00 

Rev. John C. Hew- Mrs. William H. 

lett 25.00 Hewlett 50.00 

Peter T. Hewlett. . 10.00 Frankie M. Hew- 

Robert A. Davison. 10.00 lett 38.20 

Carman Cornelius. 25.00 Mrs. William E. 

Alfred S. Smith . . . 20.00 Hewlett 5.00 

Joseph H. Willetts. 10.00 Mrs. J. I. Lott ... 50 

Carman & Foreman 25.00 Frank M. Munn. . 17.00 

Francis Miller .... 5.00 Mrs. Charles Mor- 

Charles V. Combs. 25.00 gan 50.00 

E. B. Sexton 20.00 Thomas H. Clowes 5.00 

In addition to the above there were the following gifts: 

Mrs. Whitehead H. Hewlett, organ. 

Mrs. D. R. Wright of New Haven, Communion 

Charlotte L. Hewlett, Bible, Prayer Book, Book of 
Altar Service, Hymnals, Book Marks and half a dozen 
Prayer Books for pews. 

Julia H. Hewlett, Lectern hangings, one dozen Prayer 
Books, one half dozen Hymnals. 

Trinity Church, Rockaway, Altar. 

Prayer Book Society by Mrs. George H. Sexton, fifty 
Prayer Books, fifty Hymnals. 


Frankie M. Hewlett, three Hymnals, with notes. 

To furnish a bell, $176.58. 

The total cost of church and furniture was: 

Church building and lot $1,000.00 

Pews 390.00 

Carpet 22 1 .56 

Chancel furniture 70.00 

Repairing, etc 37-31 


The Reverend L. S. Russell was in charge of the Mis- 
sion from December, 1882, until October, 1885. He was 
succeeded in turn by the Reverend J. A. Locke, the Rev- 
erend W. A. Brewer, the Reverend C. A. Jessup, the 
Rev. W. W. Love, and the Reverend C. F. Olmstead. Of 
all these, Mr. Brewer was longest in charge and left with 
his people the kindest recollections. 

The church edifice was consecrated by the Right Rev- 
erend Bishop Littlejohn, July 26, 1887, and its title vested 
in the Trustees of the Diocese. 

In 1887 a fund was started for building a rectory; a fair 
was held for the benefit of this fund and $200 realized 
therefrom. Plans were obtained, the work was com- 
menced, and the rectory speedily finished. It is one of 
the few good houses of its character in the diocese. 

April nth, 1890, the church and parish were incorpo- 
rated under the name of "The Church of the Redeemer." 


The first officers were: Rector, Rev. Wm. M. Dow- 
ney; Wardens, Bezaleel Sexton, Herman H. Cammann; 
Vestrymen, Benjamin Seaman, George Hewlett, William 
Hewlett, Theodoret Bartow, Theodore Arms, Frank 
Miller, P. Gildersleeve, Hugh V. Roddy. 

The death of Mr. Sexton, senior warden, in 1891, was 
a great loss to the parish. The people among whom he 
lived have caused to be placed in the chancel of the 
church a memorial window to commemorate his good 
deeds and hold in loving memory the name of their first 
senior warden. 

Ground was given (1891) by Mr. Cammann upon 
which to erect a parish house. Authority to build was 
obtained from the vestry and in April of the following 
year, the new building was opened and has since been 
in constant use. 

Changes in the church edifice of a pronounced char- 
acter have several times been made, and repeated as cir- 
cumstances required, until now, this corporation, with 
church, rectory and parish house has as complete a 
property as exists elsewhere on Long Island. 

The Rev. Mr. Downey resigned in the spring of 1892. 
He was succeeded by the Rev. W. A. Crawford Frost, who 
came in the fall and remained until May, 1896, when he in 
turn was succeeded by the present incumbent, the Rev. J. 
W. Barker, D.D. 

The present vestry is composed as follows: Wardens, 
H. H. Cammann, P. R. Jennings; Vestrymen, Benjamin 


H. Seaman, William E. Hewlett, Frank S. Miller, Arthur 
Welwood, Charles N. Kent, Charles A. VVelwood, Rich- 
ard P. Kent, E. C. Cammann. 

It may be of interest to the reader to know that the 
first Episcopal Church building on the Island was erect- 
ed in 1734 at Setauket, and called first, Christ Church, 
afterwards Caroline Church, because of gifts received 
from Queen Caroline. It still stands upon the original 
site in a goodly state of preservation and has for its rec- 
tor a man of much antiquarian research, the Rev. Dan 
Marvin. In olden times the preacher could look from his 
pulpit through a window, upon the nearby rectory and 
its adjacent garden. "One hot July afternoon," says an 
old Chronicle, "the church was full of British officers. 
Mr. Lyons was preaching, but in the midst of his sermon 
he chanced to look out of this window, and saw a sight 
which caused him to interpolate the following unpremed- 
itated remarks, addressed to the officers: 'Here am I 
preaching the blessed Gospel to you, and there are your 
redcoats, in my garden, stealing my potatoes.' " 



The Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad was incorporated 
April 15th, 1832, and the first cars on Long Island ran 
over this road April i8th, 1836. It was extended by the 
Long Island Railroad Company, to Hicksville, in 1837, 
and on the 25th of July, 1844, a through train ran from 
Brooklyn to Greenport for the first time. 

The South Side Railroad was built in 1866. Mr. 
Charles Fox, then a resident of Merrick, became its pres- 
ident. The first train from Jamaica through Merrick to 
Babylon went over this road October 17th, 1867. Great 
things were anticipated in a local way because of the 
place being then a railroad town; but no depot, and not 
so much as a waiting room of any kind whatsoever could 
be secured — the people were told the road could not af- 
ford it. A freight car was asked, as a means for tempor- 
ary refuge, but not even that was granted — there was no 
spare car to be had. Finally under the leadership of Mr. 
William E. Hewlett, people got together on Christmas 
day (1867) and, before night, built, at their own expense, 
the first depot. It was not a grand afifair, being only 
twelve feet by six and open at the front, with a shed roof, 
but it appeared to give satisfaction and was used for some 



time. An oil painting of this building is owned by Mr. 

Now, in 1900, there are thirteen daily trains between 
Merrick, New York and Brooklyn, and the time required 
to City Hall, Manhattan, is one hour and fifteen minutes. 
This will doubtless be decreased still further, as time goes 



Until within a comparatively few years the exhaustless 
supply of pure water on Long Island was proverbial. We 
have already seen of what use and value it became in the 
Merrick River, and this was but a single instance among 
many that might be cited of the thrift and prosperity ex- 
isting along the banks of numerous other water courses. 
■Says Prime: "In traveling on the South Side of the 
Island from Gravesend to Canoe Place, you necessarily 
cross one of these streams almost every mile 'till you 
have counted some sixty or seventy on your journey." It 
was only necessary to drive a pipe from three to six feet 
into the ground and attach thereto a pump, in order to 
secure a bountiful supply of the best and purest water 
anywhere obtainable. Windmills were called into requi- 
sition and the landscape was dotted with them in every 
direction. But, most unfortunately for the interests of the 
people, the Brooklyn Water Company was permitted to 
enter this garden spot of the State and withdraw, through 
its reservoirs and pumping stations, not only the surplus, 
but even the ordinary supply derived from surface and 
subterranean streams and springs. A more disastrous 
and far reaching catastrophy to the rights of citizens and 



productiveness of soil was never recorded. Streams 
dried up; water wheels became idle, for there was no 
longer power to turn them; mills fell into decay and vege- 
tation sufifered. This condition still exists in a lesser de- 
gree at the present day, but it is only a question of time 
when eviction of the Brooklyn company will follow; and 
even now, from the numerous suits and injunctions 
entered, it is more amenable to the rights of the people, 
and guards against the useless waste which at one time 
characterized its action. 

The Merrick Water Company was incorporated June 
8th, 1895. The object stated was to furnish pure water 
in abundant quantities, distributed through pipes under 
ground to citizens desirous of obtaining it and making 
application therefor. A site was selected, just north of 
Kirkwood and west of the Church property on Merrick 
Avenue. Numerous pipe wells were driven a distance of 
38 feet; a windmill of large capacity was erected, 85 feet 
from the ground, and a tank, holding 16,000 gallons 
placed upon its tower, 40 feet high. Pipes were laid in 
the various avenues, and the supply of pure water thus 
furnished has been sufScient and never failing. The en- 
tire village can thus be furnished, and arrangements have 
been made, so that whenever necessary the present mo- 
tive power of the company can be supplemented by 
steam or other agent. 

But hardly had the Merrick company completed its 
plant, ere the Brooklyn concern began to lay pipes, sink 


wells and erect a pumping station within limits from 
which the Merrick company by previous right and oc- 
cupancy derived its own supply — the one corporation, be- 
cause of its power and magnitude, apparently going 
behind both Statute and Common law, usurping rights 
held existant by the Courts, and paying little or no atten- 
tion to those of the smaller and local company. But, as 
already predicted, it is believed these encroachments are 
short lived and will be followed by a not far distant ex- 
termination of the very objectionable neighbor — so 
unneighborly in its present contentions. 



We find record of Parish and Sunday School Libraries 
with limited resources, for a score or more of years; and 
still earlier there may have been a small collection of 
books in the public school. But no attempt worthy of no- 
tice in this direction was made until the spring of 1891, 
when the proprietors of the Messenger, a monthly parish 
newspaper, founded "The Merrick Free Circulating Li- 
brary." It first saw light in the hay loft of a vacant stable 
and boasted fully fifty volumes upon improvised shelves. 
During the first summer, its patrons numbered from 
twelve to fifteen weekly. In the fall of that year the li- 
brary was removed to a building altered for the purpose 
on Merrick Avenue, and the change resulted in an in- 
crease of volumes and readers. Again, in 1892, another 
removal became necessary and in this last resting place 
it remained until the fall of 1895, when new quarters were 
established in the Tank Tower of the Merrick Water 

April 2 1 St, 1897, the present Merrick Library was in- 
corporated. In anticipation of this a building had already 
been commenced, made possible by generous donations, 
and the work was speedily pushed to completion. 



The new building is on the northeast corner of Kirk- 
wood and Merrick Avenues, occupying a delightful site, 
beneath the shade of beautiful trees, and with a well kept 
lawn in front. It is perfect in construction and appoint- 
ments and justly merits, as it has received, the approval 
and patronage of a community residing even far beyond 
the limits of Merrick. Upon its shelves there are now 
over twelve hundred volumes, and the number is con- 
stantly increasing. Taken as a whole, the collection is 
superior to that of the average village library, and the 
true book lover will here find an occasional work not 
elsewhere easily discovered, which would merit special 
attention in the valuable collections of Manhattan and 

Books are loaned to any person, applying for them, 
who is known to the librarian or introduced by a mem- 
ber, and the library is open at convenient hours for the 
delivery of books and use as a reading room. It is fur- 
nished with small tables, stationery and other conveni- 
ences for patrons. 

There is always to be had a complete file of the leading 
magazines, illustrated weekly newspapers, reviews and 
religious periodicals. Maps — modern and ancient — adorn 
the walls, while for those desiring to consult books of 
reference, which may not be taken from the building, 
every facility is afforded. 

Any person who pays $2 annually becomes therebv a 
member of the association when elected by the Board of 


Trustees. The payment of $25 at one time constitutes 
life membership. 

In connection with the Library is a museum of Long 
Island reUcs and curiosities which promises to be of very 
considerable interest and value. 

The oi^cers at present are: President, Edward C. 
Cammann; Vice President and Treasurer, Richard P. 
Kent; Secretary, E. B. Willetts, Jr. ; Librarian, Miss Lina 
Miller; Trustees, H. H. Cammann, Chas. N. Kent, P. R. 
Jennings, E. C. Cammann, Richard P. Kent, Wm. E. 
Hewlett, J. W. Birch, E. B. Willetts, Jr., Charles N. 
Kent, Jr. 



The Long Island Camp Meeting Association, after ex- 
perimenting in various places, during the previous five 
years, reorganizing in 1869, in Merrick, selecting the 
grounds they have since occupied, for their first meeting, 
and "agreeing to purchase for permanent use if found 
suitable." The first convocation approved the purchase 
■which was accordingly made at the close of the first as- 
sembly. The grounds are situated less than a mile north 
from the depot, east of Merrick avenue, or, as it is there 
called. Whale Neck Road. They embrace nearly sixty 
acres and the first cost including avenues, grading, water 
supply and necessary buildings was $26,000. 

At present (1900) there are nearly sixty houses within 
the enclosure, most of which are occupied during the 
summer months, when the average population is about 
three hundred. During regular camp meeting sessions 
this number is largely increased. "We have known," said 
the Superintendent, "as many as ten thousand here at 
one time; but, then," he added, "that was before the days 
of Coney Island and Long Beach!" Cottages one story 
high rent during the season for $30 and those two stories 
high bring from $50 upwards. 



The association was early incorporated, and granted a 
special act by the Legislature under which it is authorized 
CO purchase and hold real estate to the extent in value of 
two hundred thousand dollars, and to possess an income 
of not exceeding thirty thousand dollars. One hundred 
acres of land, with the property thereon, is made exempt 
from taxation. The trustees are authorized to issue scrip, 
payable, as the interests of the association will permit, to 
the amount of seventy thousand dollars. All surplus 
monies are to be applied to the loan fund of the M. E. 
Church Extension Society. 

The present Secretary and Superintendent is Mr. J. E. 
Lucky, of Brooklyn. 



In some particulars — those of the most important — the 
Merrick of to-day is not unhke the Merrick of 1643. 
Natural causes have but served to augment its attrac- 
tions and the especial purity of its atmosphere remains 
uncontaminated and unchanged. There is something re- 
markable in this last feature, which from a scientific 
standpoint has never been satisfactorily accounted for. 
Within Merrick's boundaries, and for a short distance 
east and west, breezes from off old Ocean in crossing the 
Great Bay undergo a radical change whereby the harsh 
and salty elements in the air disappear, leaving it remark- 
ably soothing and invigorating to a degree found only in 
this particular locality. 

It is certain that the land from the Bay northward has 
been "making in" during a long period of years — possibly 
since or even before the settlement of our first Rock 
Smith and his associates. Opposite Merrick docks, exca- 
vations, at a depth of nearly four feet, discover remains of 
a curduroy road, used, as is remembered by old set- 
tlers, for the wagons and ox carts in which all freight ar- 
riving by boat from New York was transported to Hemp- 
stead and other villages by way of Whale Neck Road. 



During the summer of 1899 a large bathing pool with 
bath houses adjoining was constructed, west of Merrick 
Canal, south of the boat house. In the course of excava- 
tion, beach sand was reached at an even depth of nearly 
four feet, and, upon the sand, Indian "pot sticks," four in 
number — sound and strong as if but recently cut from 
trees — were upturned; nearby as if to shade those who 
watched the kettle boil, suspended from the pot sticks, 
stood the stump of what had been once a large maple 
tree — larger indeed than is now often met with. The 
stump, at its top was at least two feet belovi' the present 
land surface. 

But while the land has thus been making in, the south- 
erly beaches, under prevailing winds and tides, undergo 
constant changes in both directions. Said one, familiar 
from observation: "The sand on this beach is a chang- 
ing all the time. Hollers now'll be hills by'me by. The 
wind'll scoop out a hold and pile up a hill in no time. It 
handles sand about the same way it drifts snow." 

It is claimed by some well informed people, that at a 
period it is not now possible to designate there was no 
great South Bay — waves direct from the Atlantic, with 
no intervening sand bar rolled in upon Merrick marshes 
and Merrick's southern shore was then the true ocean 
beach. The sand formation now dividing bay from ocean, 
we are told, is of more recent origin — an aggregation of 
shifting sands, accumulated by constant motion of wind 
and tide. 


There may also be noted, in passing, the existence of a 
strong belief, frequently found in old documents, that the 
whole of Long Island was at one time a part of the main 
land — connected therewith from east to west, — a sepa- 
ration having been wrought by volcanic upheavals. 



The writer's personal attachment to Merrick; his 
strong appreciation of its many advantages for suburban 
homes, and the friendships which have there been formed 
and augmented, resulted in a desire to know more of its 
history — and hence, during otherwise leisure hours these 
pages have been written. 

The future of Merrick may be predicted with a moder- 
ate degree of accuracy. Its comparatively slow growth 
in the past is due to natural causes which will ultimately 
show advantageous results. Speculation in lands, the 
bane of so many suburban towns, has here never been at- 
tempted. ''Corner lots at a bargain," "Country homes at 
a great sacrifice," and other like announcements never 
appear in connection with our real estate. With its broad 
avenues and cultivated acres, its attractive residences and 
beautiful lawns, the remaining land is largely held by 
those who can so afiford to keep it, until such time as a 
transfer is effected — not in lots measured in square feet, 
but in acres — to would-be residents of some means and 
reputation, who will join with those already here happily 
domiciled, in making Merrick an aggregation of homes 
of the better class, free from the petty annoyances of an 
ordinary country village. 




Copy of the original commission issued to Jonathan 
Smith (Rock) Merrick: 

Benjamin Fletcher, Capt Gen'll and Governor in Chiefe 
of his Maj'ties Province of New Yorke, and all the Territ- 
tories and Tracts of Land depending thereon in America, 
& Vice Admirall of the Same; his Majties Leut. and Com- 
mander in Chiefe of the Militia and of all the forces by 
Sea and Land within his Ma j 'ties Collony of Connecticutt, 
and of all the Forts and places of strength within the 
Same : 

By Virtue of the power and Authority to me given by 
his Maj'tie under his great Seal of England, I doe hereby 
constitute and appoint you, Jonathan Smith, to be Quar- 
termaster of the Troope of Millitia Horse Whereof 
Daniel Whitehead is Captaine. You are therefore carefully 
and and dilligently to discharge the duty of Quartermaster 
to the said Troope by doeing and performing all and all 
manner of things thereunto bellonging, and you are to ob- 
serve and follow Such Orders and Directions as you shall 
from time to time receive from me or any other your 
Superior officer or officers, according to the rules and 
discipline of Warr, in pursuance to the trust hereby Re- 


posed in you, and for soe doing this shall be your suffi- 
cient Warrant and Commission. Given under my hand 
and Seal att Arms Att fort William Henry in New 
Yorke on the ninth day of Jully in the ninth year of his 
majesties Reigti, Anno Domino 1697. 

Ben Fletcher. 
By his Excellencies Command. 

Dan Honan. 

Note. — The original of this commission is in the pos- 
session of Mrs. Elijah Smith, Merrick. She also has a 
similar commission issued to the same officer, but signed 
by "George Clinton, "Admiral of the White Squadron of 
her Majesties fleet." 

Extract from Philip Hone's diary : 

January 14, i8j^. 
"The rage for speculating in lands on Long Island is 
one of the bubbles of the day. Men in moderate circum- 
stances have become immensely rich merely by the good 
fortune of owning farms of a few acres of this chosen 
land. Abraham Schermerhorn has sold his farm of 170 
acres at Gowanus, three miles from Brooklyn, at $600 
per acre. Four years ago, having got out of conceit of it 
as a residence, he offered it for sale at $20,000, and would 
have taken $18,000. To-day he pockets $102,000 and re- 
grets that he sold it so cheap !" 




Air, pure 66 

Appendix 73 

Arms, Theodore 54 

Baldwin, F. B 51 

Barker, Rev. J. W., D.D... . 54 

Barnum, Miss 24, 41 

Bartow, Theodoret 54 

Bergen, Geo. W 52 

Birch, J. W 63 

Brewer, Rev. W. A 53 

Brooklyn Water Works, 

45, 58, 59 

Cammann, E. C 55, 63 

Cammann, H. H., 27, 40, 54, 63 
Camp Meeting Grounds. .40, 64 

Carman, Caleb 27 

Carman, John, 14, 16, 20, 27, 30 

Carman family 27 

Carman & Foreman 52 

Caroline Church 55 

Charlton, Richard 47 

Chegone 17 

Che Know 19 

Church, contributors to 51 

Churches 49 

Burials in . 50 

Clowes, Thomas H 52 

Combs, Charles V 52 

Cornelius Carman 52 

Davison, Robert A 52 

Dickie, Captain 31 


Downey, Rev. Wm. M 54 

Depuy, Henry W 15 

Dutch Peter 13 

EUoson, Richard 33 

Epitaph 50 

Farret, Mr 11, 12 

Floatsam and Jetsam 45 

Fordham, Robert 16, 20 

Fox, Charles 56 

Frost, Rev. W. A. C 54 

Gildersleeve, P 54 

Greater Merrick 15, 34 


II, 13, 14, 16, 18, 19 

Hewlett, Augustus J 51 

Hewlett, Benj 30 

Hewlett, Benj., 2d 30 

Hewlett, Charles 51 

Hewlett, Charlotte L 52 

Hewlett, Col 29 

Hewlett, Frankie M 52, 53 

Hewlett, George, 

24, 30, 31, 32, 51 
Hewlett, George M. , 28, 29, 5 1 , 54 
Hewlett, George T. . .28, 30, 51 

Hewlett, John 28, 30 

Hewlett, Rev. John C 52 

Hewlett, John J 39 

Hewlett, Joseph 30 

Hewlett, Julia H 52 

Hewlett, J. T 51 






Hewlett, Lewis 28 

Hewlett, Peter T 52 

Hewlett, Whitehead H 51 

Hewlett, Mrs. Whitehead H. 52 
Hewlett William E., 

28, 39, 54, 55, 56, 63 

Hewlett, Mrs. Wm. E 52 

Hewlett, Mrs. Wm. H 52 

Highways 38 

Humphreys, Wm 31 

Indians 21 

Indians, Merrick 23 

Industries 44 

Jackson, John 31 

James, John 18 

January, Henry 24 

January, Sarah 24 

Jeanette 24 

Jennings, P. R 41, 54, 63 

Jessup, Rev. C. A 53 

Kent, Chas. N 55, 63 

Kent, Chas. N., Jr 63 

Kent, Richard P 55, 63 

Kieft, Gov 12, 16, 20 

King, John A 51 

Kirkwood Avenue 41 

Lamoree, John 20 

Lindemere Avenue 41 

Linne Settlers 11,12 

Little John, Bishop 53 

Little Merrick 15, 34, 42 

Locke, Rev. J. A 53 

Longevity 31 


Long Island, Indian Name 

for 12 

Lott, John 1 51 

Lott Mrs. John 1 52 

Lottery 46 

Love, Rev. W. W 53 

Lovelace, Gov 44. 47 

Low, Wm. G 51 

Lucky, J. E 65 

Martom 19 

Merrick Avenue 40 

Merrick, Elvira 15 

Merrick Library 61 

Merrick, Mass 15 

Merrick Path 38 

Merrick Post Office 39 

Merrick Road 38 

Merrick Water Co 58 

Miller, F. S 52, 54 55 

Miller, Miss Lina 63 

Mills 44 

Montauks 20 

Morgan, Mrs. Charles 52 

Munn, Frank M 52 

Nassau, Island of 13 

Nautchie 24 

Neal's History of N. E 12 

Nicolls, Gov 12 

Ogden, John 20 

Olmstead, Rev. C. F 53 

Pees Komach 19 

Plank Road 40 

Post, Birasall 52 




Railroad 56 

Raphael 24 

Raynor, Capt. Thos 41 

Raynor, Joseph 32 

Roddy, Hugh V 23, 54 

Roddy, Mrs. Hugh V 51 

Romege iS 

Rumasackromen 18 

Russell, Rev. L. S . . . 53 

Sayasstock 19 

Schools 47 

Seaman, Benj. H.,38, 41, 51, 54 

Seaman, Charity T 51 

Seaman, Raynor P 50 

Searing, Eliza 51 

Sexton, Bezal eel 54 

Sexton, E. B 52 

Sexton, Mrs. Geo. H 52 

Sheresby, George 47 

Smith, Alfred S 52 

Smith, Mrs. Elijah 28, 37 

Smith family names 26 

Smith, Gilbert 45 

Smith, John 14, 23, 33 

Smith, John Rock 26, 33 

Smith, Jonathan Rock 34, 35 

Smith, Joseph 34 

Smith, Silvanus 34 

Smith, William Black 30 

So. Oyster Bay Turnpike. . . 38 

Southampton 12 

Squaw Betty 24 

Stages 39 


Stamford 14, 20 

Sterling, Lord 11, 12, 16 

Stricklan , John 20 

Strong, Tom 24 

Sturges, Jona 29 

Tackapousha 17, 19 

Titles— land i6 

Trinity Church, Rockaway.. 51 

Trumbull, Gov 29 

Underbill, John 24 

Underbill, John, Jr 24 

Valentine, Richard 28 

Valentine, William 34 

Van Wyck, Cornelia 51 

Waautauch 19 

Wangwang. 18 

Wantagh 17 

Washington, Geo 29 

Waucombound 19 

Welwood, Arthur 51, 55 

Welwood, Chas. A 55 

Whale Neck Road 40 

Willetts, E. B., Jr 63 

Willetts, Joseph H 52 

Willetts, Mrs. Mary 30, 51 

Willomere Avenue 41 

Wood, Jonas 20 

Woronmcacking 18 

Wright, Mrs. D. R 52 

Wright, Joseph S 52 

Wright, Rhoda 52 

Wynsum Avenue 41 

Yorkshire 13